Do You Need a Homeschool Room?

The homeschool room, of course.

This would be the room with the shelves of Dear Canada novels and my collections of books for the prescribed reading lists, and math workbooks, and dictionaries, and you know, schoolish stuff.

Oh, this is your schoolroom!” I’ve heard this exclamation many times.


It’s a lovely room: 1920s hardwood floors, floor-to-ceiling white built-in bookshelves sitting astride a windowed desk, swivel chair for me to sit and farmhouse table and chairs for the kids.

In the fifties, this room was used by a Canadian Member of Parliament, a Justice minister for Prime Minister Diefenbaker.

Now there is a map of the world on one wall. Inexpensive prints of Monet on another wall. Dollar store canvases of the children’s acrylic work in a collage on the largest wall. And a white board with the dates of confederation or Canadian prime ministers on another.

Tis the traditional schoolroom…and for a whole two weeks at the beginning of our homeschooling journey, I rang a little bell and we sat in our chairs in a semi-circle; we used this room as a schoolroom.

Then we didn’t…for the four years we lived in that home; except for aesthetic storage, it was a workroom for quiet, and occasional, crafting.

We discovered there are other places to learn outside a schoolroom, without chalk and blackboard, without projectors and whiteboards, without lectern and scolding instructor (okay, so they still get scolding instructor some days).

Where do we actually do studies?

Vanschooling.

Travelling any distance? Those kiddos are strapped in with nothing to do. And if you don’t want their brains blitzed and irritated by excess screen time in a 3×6 moving rectangle, you can find activities for them to do.

I speak from experience. We’ve driven 3500 km with four kids in the minivan from the Interior of British Columbia to the northernmost part of the NorthWest Territories. We’ve driven twelve hours north and six hours south. We’ve driven A LOT and OFTEN over the past fifteen years.

Try books on cd. Or a discussion of mileage and map problems. A combination of active discussion and verbal games, and enforced quiet time doing quiet reading or in-your-seat-game playing, is balanced well with bi-hourly stops.

Travelling close to home? Even if you’re not travelling farther than the yoga studio or music lessons, second language CDs reinforce new language learning. I’ve often heard Story of the World CDs played as history study. I have even heard about readaloud CDs for Apologia science books. Got to get my hands on those.

Starbuckschooling.

I don’t ascribe to one coffee retailer, but Starbucks is North American universal…any favourite coffee shop will do.

When being in the house doing the same old, same old routine, even child-directed learning gets a little mundane.

You can take a deck of cards and a handful of dice to the café (if you’re presently allowed in a cafe). Reinforce basic math skills playing multiplication war or mental math questions…throw the dice and have them add or subtract in their head. Bring a travel chess game. Work on a Mindbender book learning to be a super-sleuth.

You could give them a story writing prompt and have them write away with half-sweet caramel steamers with whip. It’s just more fun here.

Yes, the atmosphere, the music, the people-watching can be a little distracting for young ‘uns–but everything is familiar if you get them used to it;)

The library.

Have you seen what they have in there? So many books, on topics you might not have previously considered, and you can borrow ALL of it for nothing. This little piece of technology brought to us by Johannes Gutenberg, with his printing press, has revolutionized our world as much as (surely more) than our handheld devices.

By the Christmas tree

…In late January, when it’s still up. At the kitchen table with the rest of homeschooldom. On the sofa with our river valley view. Sometimes on a picnic blanket in the backyard. Sometimes on the verandah with a glass of lemonade. Definitely on your bed with afternoon sun warming your room. Or cuddled in blankets on the living room floor.

Sometimes in the bathroom.

Not humidity prevention for books, but this location comes in awfully handy when I’m not quite finished flat ironing my hair or when I’m just out of the shower after the kids have started their new math lesson. This tip is not recommended for public schoolteachers, but learning does indeed happen in all corners of a homeschool home.

At the park or in the minivan.

Once upon a time, we were travelling with the kids and stuck in a 400 sq. ft. motel room with four kiddos: too little space and the bickering sounds louder.

They pack their backpacks with their studies and we take a short drive to discover a new neighbourhood…as we drive, someone reads the book about the orchestra and we play Track 39, then we review our French vocabulary.

Then we stop at the playground, find a quiet spot and finish writing the stories we started yesterday. We’re visiting every. single. playground in town: we also call that recess.

An education can happen anywhere, not just a school classroom. Though she didn’t intend to address educational strategies, Gloria Steinem said it well, “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn but to unlearn”. I’ll apply her words here: let’s unlearn that learning doesn’t have to happen in a classroom; learning happens anywhere.


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